The mining booms of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century added great wealth to the U.S. economy, facilitated the American settlement of many parts of the West, produced the industrial feedstock for modern society, and endowed many Western locales with colorful cultural heritages. But the old mines also left behind a legacy of trouble for today’s Westerners. Abandoned mines dot the Western landscape, polluting the region’s streams with acid mine drainage and connecting the Western past to the Western present and future in very real and ongoing ways.
Since the release of our 2005 report, the Center of the American West has been working toward a solution to the problems posed by abandoned hardrock mines. We’ve brought together mining industry leaders, environmental activists, government agencies, and concerned citizens of communities in mining territory to create and reinforce positive solutions that will promote the cleanup of abandoned mines and enable all Westerners to prospect for a better future. (Download PDF)